By Gordon Ovenshine
The Apostle Paul urges Christians to accept change, especially past disappointments, and remain faithful as we move headlong through life. “One thing I do: forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14).
Let’s be honest: It’s not always easy. Change can be challenging when it involves unwanted life developments, such as the loss of a loved one, bad medical news or a wayward child. And how should a Christian respond when God doesn’t answer prayer, a relative doesn’t come to Christ, or when “bad things happen to good people?” Sometimes change unfolds in an unfair manner, even for the faithful believer.
It’s important to remember that no one qualifies as “good” or deserves God’s grace. (Romans 3:23). If people were worthy, Jesus would not have had to come in the flesh to atone for our sins. As someone who has endured many difficulties, what I am working on in my life is making peace with change, even when I don’t like it, and keeping my eye on the big picture. Do I succeed always? No. But Jesus promises eternal life. Regardless of circumstances, in the end, that is enough. Ultimately it doesn’t matter what happens on this side. Heaven means more. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
This is not to say we should be cavalier about change or responsibilities. I lost my father, brother, aunt and uncle in 2018; I’ll never be happy about it. But even when life hurts, we can offer Him a song of praise because He paid the price. We can’t expect to find stability in see-saw circumstances, because the wheels are always going to fall off. If we live by faith, God promises the believer serenity. “You will keep in perfect peace, him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.” Isaiah 26:3-4.
In one of his most well-known parables, Jesus shows the necessity of planting your feet upon solid rock. “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of mime and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on a rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of mine and does not do the will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that hose; and it fell. And great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:24-25).
My life verse, Psalm 16:11, affirms God’s provision. “You will show me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” It’s significant that David doesn’t mention life hardship or change – and he certainly had his share. Instead, this verse assures us that God is in control and provides the only right direction for our lives. We’re studying this concept at church with a sermon series on prayer as a guiding principle for moving forward.
The change we all need, the change that matters most, is coming to repentance. I can testify that God orchestrates positive change in a person’s life. He watched over me when I didn’t have a relationship with Him. In my early 20s, God placed a succession of Christians in my life, at work, as a college roommate and finally as a girlfriend who became my wife. Deep inside, I knew God wanted to reach me. I knew I had to decide whether “this God stuff” is real. I searched the Scriptures and read books such as More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell, who recently ministered at Christ Church at Grove Farm. Like any other person who fairly evaluates the evidence, I concluded that Jesus is who he claims to be, the Son of God incarnate. I made a saving decision for Christ at a rally in Butler more than 20 years ago, led by John Guest, interim senior pastor at Christ Church. It must have been destiny that we transitioned to this church six months ago.
In the 1970s, David Bowie topped the charts with Changes, with the lyric, “turn and face the strain.” I suggest we need to turn and praise the Lord. Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes.